Matthew 28:1-2. In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
See what concern angels have about our Lord. Are they here tonight? Do they make a habit of coming where the saints meet together? I think they do. We have intimations in Scripture that that is the case. Let us behave ourselves aright tonight “because of the angels”; and as they worship and count it their highest honour to serve the Son of man, let us also worship Jesus, and adore him. What a picture this scene would make!
Matthew 28:3-4. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow; and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
He said nothing as he rolled back the stone; he did not shake a sword at them, or over them, to fill them with terror. The presence of perfect purity, the presence of heavenly things, is a terror to ungodly men. May you and I be such that our very presence in company will cast a hush over it! “It was e’en as though an angel shook his wings,” they said of one good man, when he spake in common conversation. May there be about us enough of the heavenly to make the powers of evil quail before us!
Matthew 28:5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye:
But I notice that they did fear, although the angel said, “Fear not.” Neither men nor angels can so speak as to silence fears in trembling hearts; but Jesus can, as we shall see farther on. One word from his lips has infinitely more power than all the words of angels or of saints.
Matthew 28:5. For I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
And if you and I tonight can truly say that we are on the side of Jesus, that we seek him who was crucified, then we can bear all the shame with which philosophy would fain cover the cross, and we have no cause for fear. Ridicule and all that it brings from this ungodly generation will not hurt you.
Matthew 28:6. He is not here: for be is risen, as he said.
“As he said.” A few words, but what a world of meaning! “As he said.” He always does “as he said.” He always gives “as he said.” He always reveals himself “as he said” not otherwise. He never fails to fulfil a promise, or forgets even the mode of promising; not only does he do what be said, but as he said: “He is risen, as he said.”
Matthew 28:6. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
For even the place where he lay is hallowed to you. And, beloved, if there is a place where you have ever had communion with Christ, you will remember it. You might bless the spot of ground where Jesus met with you. Here, tonight, I hope that some of you can see the place where the Lord appeared to you.
Matthew 28:7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead;
Such good news ought to be spread quickly. “Go and tell his disciples,” they are trembling, they have fled, — “that he is risen from the dead.”
Matthew 28:7. And, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
Brethren, this is good news for us tonight, though all may not, perhaps, feel the power of it. “He is risen.” We have no dead Christ; we serve a living Saviour. He is risen, and therefore he can come to us tonight in the power of his resurrection-life, and he can make us glad. “Behold, he goeth before you into Galilee.” There is a great deal about Galilee in Matthew’s Gospel; it is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and yet it often talks about Galilee, that border-land which touches Gentiles, as well as the chosen seed of Abraham. There is the place where Jesus will meet his people, in the border-land between Jew and Gentile, there the risen Christ will hold the first general assembly of his Church.
Matthew 28:8. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy;
What a mixture, fear and joy! But notice that the fear was not great, and the joy was: “Fear and great joy.” Observe the proportions of the mixture; and if tonight you have some fear, yet I hope you will have great joy; and then the bitterness of the fear will pass away. A holy fear, mixed with great joy, is one of the sweetest compounds we can bring to God’s altar. Some of us have brought those spices with us tonight. These holy women brought other spices to the sepulchre; but these were the spices that they took away from it, “Fear and great joy.”
Matthew 28:8-9. And did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
He would not let Mary Magdalene do that when they were alone, but he said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: it is more needful for you to go now and tell my disciples that I have risen from the dead. There will be time by-and-by for further fellowship with me.” But now Jesus permits these godly women to hold him by the feet. It was an act of humility, worshipping and holding; and holding not his hands, but his feet. They must have seen the nail-prints before Thomas did, as they held him by the feet, and worshipped him. I do not find that these women ran to the angels, they rather shrank back from them; but they came to Jesus, for we are told that they came, and held him by the feet. I think that there must have been a new attraction about Christ after he had risen from the dead, something more sweet about the tones of his voice, something more charming about the countenance that had been so maimed at Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha.
Matthew 28:10. Then said Jesus unto them,
As he saw their palpitating hearts, and perceived that they were still all in a flurry, for the angel had not dispelled their fears,
Matthew 28:10. Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
The angel talked of “disciples”; Christ talks of “brethren.” He always has the sweeter word.
Matthew 28:11. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
While good people were active, bad people were active, too. It is wonderful to think of how much good and evil is being done at the same time. While we are thankful that holy women are running with holy messages for Christ, here come the soldiers of the watch, and they are going in to those vile priests.
Matthew 28:12. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel,
They ought at once to have repented when the watch came, and told them that Jesus was risen. Ought they not to have gone, and fallen at his feet, and begged for mercy? But instead of that
Matthew 28:12. They gave large money unto the soldiers,
Money, wherever it comes in, seems to do mischief. For money Christ was betrayed, and for money the truth about his resurrection was kept back as far as it could be. Money has had a hardening effect on some of the highest servants of God, and all who have to touch the filthy lucre have need to pray for grace to keep them from being harmed by being brought into contact with it.
Matthew 28:13. Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
If they were asleep, how did they know what happened? How could they know it if they were asleep? Evidence which is borne by men who were asleep at the time is evidently not worth regarding; but when you have to tell a lie, I suppose that, as any stick is good enough to beat a dog with, any lie will do to slander one whom you hate.
Matthew 28:14-15. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught:
No doubt you have heard of the man who said that he did not believe all the articles of his church because his salary was so small that he could not be expected to believe them all for the money. Oh, the depraving and debasing power of the whole system of bribery and falsehood! May none of us ever be affected by considerations of profit and loss in matters of doctrine, matters of duty, and matters of right and wrong!
Matthew 28:15. And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
You may start a lie, but you cannot stop it; there is no telling how long it will live. Let us never teach even the least error to a little child, for it may live on and become a great heresy long after we are dead. There is scarcely any limit to its life and to its power.
Matthew 28:1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. While the Jewish Sabbath lasted, they paid to it due respect. They did not even go the sepulchre to perform the kindly offices of embalming; but when the old Sabbath was dying away, and the new and better Sabbath began to dawn, these holy women found their way back to their Lord’s tomb. Woman must be first at the sepulchre as she was last at the cross. We may well forget that she was first in the transgression; the honour which Christ put upon her took away that shame. Who but Mary Magdalene should be the first at the tomb? Out of her Christ had cast seven devils, and now she acts as if into her he had sent seven angels. She had received so much grace that she was full of love to her Lord. “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” You can just see them in the grey light of the dawn; it is not clear enough to make out their form and shape; but in the twilight they are coming into the garden, and finding their way to the new sepulchre.
Matthew 28:2. And, behold, there was a great earthquake:—
The women must have wondered as they felt that tremor beneath their.
feet. If you have ever felt an earthquake, you will never forget it; and this was a great one, not one of an ordinary kind: “a great earthquake.” Death was being upheaved, and all the bars of the sepulchre were beginning to burst. When the King awoke from the sleep of death, he shook the world; the bed-chamber in which he rested for a little while trembled as the heavenly Hero arose from his couch: “Behold, there was a great earthquake.” Nor was the King unattended in his rising,—
Matthew 28:2. For the angel of the Lord—
It was not merely one of the angelic host, but some mighty presence-angel:
“the angel of the Lord”—
Matthew 28:2. Descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
Jesus was put in the prison of the tomb as a hostage for his people; therefore he must not break out by himself, but the angelic sheriff’s officer must bring the warrant for his deliverance, and set the captive at liberty. He was immured because of human debt; but the debt is paid, so he must go free. Like a flash of fire, the angel descends from the right hand of God. He stands at the mouth of the tomb, he touches the great stone, sealed as it was, and guarded by the soldiery, and it rolls back; and when he has rolled back the stone from the door. he sits upon it, as if to defy earth and hell ever to roll it back again. That great stone seems to represent the sin of all Christ’s people, which shut them up in prison; it can never be laid again over the mouth of the sepulchre of any child of God. Christ has risen, and all his saints must rise, too. The angel “rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” I think I see there one of the grandest sights that ever man beheld, for one greater than an earthly king is sitting on something better than a throne.
Matthew 28:3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
Dazzling in its purity, like the raiment worn by Christ upon the Mount of Transfiguration, whiter than any fuller can make it.
Matthew 28:4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
First a palsy of fear, and then a stiffening of fright, fell upon them, for they had never seen such a sight as this before. They were Roman soldiers, who knew nothing of the meaning of cowardice; yet at the sight of this messenger of God, “the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.”
Matthew 28:5. And the angel answered and said unto the women,—
We had almost forgotten them; we had been thinking of the earthquake, and the angel, and the flaming lightning, and the frightened soldiers; but this angel’s thought is all about the women. He whose countenance was like lightning, and whose garments were white as snow, said to the women,—
Matthew 28:5-7. Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead;
Notice the angel’s words; first “See,” and then “Go.” You cannot tell the message till you know it. You who would serve God, must first be instructed yourselves. “Come, see the place where the Lord lay;” and then, “Go quickly.” If you have seen, then go. Do not sit down, and admire the sight, and forget the thousands who have never seen it; but come, see the place where the Lord lay, and then go, and “go quickly.”
Matthew 28:7. And Behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
That is a very beautiful touch of condescension on the Saviour’s part,—that he would go before his disciples into Galilee. Why, Galilee was the very opposite of a classic region; it was a district that was much despised. The clod-hoppers, the boors, the illiterate people of no account, lived in “Galilee of the Gentiles.” “Yet,” says Christ, “I will meet you there.” It was the King’s own rendezvous,—not in the courts of earthly monarchs, nor in the palaces of the priests, but away down in Galilee. What cares he for the grandeur of men, and their empty pomp and boasted wisdom? He goes to places that are despised, that he may lift them up by the glory of his light: “Behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.”
Matthew 28:8. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy;
That seems a strange mixture: “fear and great joy.” Yet there was plenty of reason for both emotions. Who would not fear that had felt an earthquake, and seen an angel, and marked the tomb broken open? Yet who would not rejoice that had had such a cheering message, and such an assurance that the crucified Christ had risen from the dead? Experience is the best explanation of experience; you must feel for yourself these two emotions working together before you can understand how they can live in anyone at the same time: “They departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy.”
Matthew 28:8. And did run to bring his disciples word.
Good women! “They did run.” These staid matrons did run, and who would not run to tell of a risen Lord?
Matthew 28:9. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them,—
Happy are the ministers who meet their Lord when they are going up the pulpit stairs; blessed are the teachers who meet Jesus when they are going to the class. They will be sure to preach and teach well when that is the case: “As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them.”
Matthew 28:9. Saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
These holy women were not Unitarians; knowing that Jesus was the Son of God, they had no hesitation in worshipping him. Perhaps these timid souls clung to their Lord through fear that he might be again taken from them, so “they held him by the feet, and worshipped him,” fear and faith striving within them for the mastery.
Matthew 28:10. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Note how Jesus dwells upon this despised district of Galilee; I should like to dwell upon it, too. He said nothing about classic Corinth, or imperial Rome, or proud Jerusalem; but his message is,” Tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” If we will be humble, if we will cast aside the pride of life, there shall we meet him who is meek and lowly of heart.
Matthew 28:11-13. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
You must often have noticed what a mixture of falsehood this was. “You were asleep; you are sure that you were asleep?” “Yes.” “Yet you say that the disciples came; you knew they were the disciples though you were asleep. And they stole him away? You know how they did it, you can describe the stealthy way in which they took away the body of Jesus; you were the witnesses of it, although you were sound asleep all the while.” Go, sirs, it is worse than trifling to listen to the lying of a witness who begins by swearing that he was fast asleep all the time; yet this was the tale that the soldiers were bribed to tell; and many a worse lie than this has been told to try to put the truth of God out of countenance. The modern philosophy which is thrust forward to cast a slur upon the great truths of revelation, is no more worthy of credence than this lie put into the mouths of the soldiers; yet common report gives it currency, and amongst a certain clique it pays. But the soldiers naturally said, “We shall be put to death for sleeping while on duty;” so the chief priests said,—
Matthew 28:14. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
“We can give some more of those arguments that have been so telling in your hands, and they will prevail with the governor as they have prevailed with you.”
Matthew 28:15. So they took the money, and did as they were taught:—
Plenty do this still, and I have no doubt they will continue to do so as long as the world is what it is: “They took the money, and did as they were taught:”—
Matthew 28:15-17. And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
Where will not Mr. Doubting, and other members of his troublesome family be found? We can never expect to be quite free from doubters in the Church, since even in the presence of the newly-risen Christ some doubted. Yet the Lord revealed himself to the assembled company, although he knew that some among them would doubt that it was really their Lord who was risen from the dead.
Matthew 28:18-20. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in, earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
We say, “Amen,” too. May he be most manifestly with us here even now, for his sweet love’s sake! Amen.
Matthew 28:16. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
Away from the haunts of men, where he had been wont to be, in a country familiar to them, and with which he was familiar, in a despised country, “Galilee of the Gentiles.”
Matthew 28:17. And when they saw him, they worshipped him:
Probably this was the occasion referred to by Paul, when the risen Saviour “was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.”
Matthew 28:17. But some doubted.
There were some honest doubters then. The breed has been kept up ever since, only there are more dishonest doubters by a great deal than there are of honest ones now. We can never expect to be quite free from doubters in the church, since even in the presence of the newly-risen Christ “some doubted.”
Matthew 28:18. And Jesus came and spake unto them,
These words seem to imply that he came nearer to them than he was at first; unveiling himself still more, and revealing himself more clearly.
Matthew 28:18-19. Saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
“Teach”, that is, disciple, make disciples of “all nations.”
Matthew 28:19-20. Baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
There is teaching again. It is as much the duty of the Christian to teach after baptism as to teach before baptism; he must be ever teaching. Hence believers are always to be learners, since Christ would have his servants always to be teachers: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” We are not to invent a gospel; we are not to change, and shift, and cut, and shape it to meet the advancement of the age; Christ’s command is plain: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28:20. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
They have their commission, here is the seal to it; here is the source of their power; here is the society in which they are to work: “Lo, I am with you alway.” God grant that you and I, going forth to teach for Christ. may always have the sound of our Master’s feet with us, even to the end of the world! Amen.